This Thanksgiving, enjoy your freedom and power to be thankful.
At 69, I am not one inch closer to satisfying desire or avoiding fear than at age 6. These have only changed form. It’s a loser’s game. Although I appear to be a stable man, fear of pain and poverty and insatiable desire for pleasure and security haunt me. I have never had enough to quiet this. I awaken and go to sleep driven by thoughts of what I might do to further my career, my health, relationships, and reputation. Desire for pleasure seduces and fear of pain intimidates in every area of my life: food, sex, power, money, beauty, health, status, influence, clothes, homes, cars, food, leisure and travel. My thoughts are infected with the disease of want, insufficiency and never enough. Never!
Anxiety and fear are the inescapable background of my life. I am helplessly vulnerable, indefensible. A splash in the eyes of a chemical, a moment’s unawareness on the freeway, an unexpected medical test, and my life becomes mired in misery. My children and family, reputation, marriage and career are all equally at risk. My mind is driven mad with fear. And, yes, I appear normal.
As a mortal, my happiness is hardwired to events, with my mood being dependent on Fortune’s fickle. But I am sick and tired of being unhappy. I want genuine happiness, and I want it with a passion. So I am striving to go directly for what I want most. I refuse to allow my most valued treasures, my peace of mind and happiness to be destroyed by the spinning wheel of fortune. Rather than letting external events dictate my happiness, I am endeavoring to see the blessing and opportunity in every moment and circumstance, even illness and struggle.
I am learning to misuse my mind less. Just as I respect my body’s needs for warmth, rest, food and water, I respect my mind’s need to feel love and appreciation. It is made to blossom in the light of thankfulness. However, it is a fool’s game to seek this from others. The only reliable source is myself. When I am expressing appreciation, I’m happy.
No gratitude, no joy.Period.
The term “heliotropic” describes plants’ natural tendency to turn to face towards sunlight. We humans are spiritual heliotropes. Our inner world of thoughts and emotions naturally turn towards the light of love and gratitude. It is our nature, our destiny to do this. Thankfulness is the spiritual light in which my mind becomes happy, intelligent and bright. Deprived of appreciation, I cannot understand how life works. I cannot feel the fundamental goodness of life. I become unhappy, sad, disappointed, angry, apathetic, afraid, tired, and sick. My soul becomes infected and oozes tension into my body. My countenance, posture, breath, movements, circulation, appetites, sleep and moods, every aspect of me becomes distorted and eventually sick. In the atmosphere of sweet thanksgiving, my humor returns. I relax and smile, become creative, practical, intelligent, alert, full of energy and immune to everything.
My challenges are quickly consolidating into one “What will I allow to capture my attention?” Will I allow myself to be seduced by desire and want or frightened by pain and loss? Or shall my attention be given in the service of thanksgiving?
My aspiration is that in every moment I would ask myself only “How much can I find to appreciate, and how sincerely, how deeply?” I want to learn to search every situation until I find something, anything I CAN appreciate and indulge myself shamelessly. I aspire to drink wantonly of thankfulness until I become drunk and lose all perception what most call “reality”.
A teacher told me, “All happiness for a reason is, in fact, misery.” (Because the reason will change.) I’m discovering that the source of my feeling good is not in money, sunsets, my children or anything outside myself. Thankfulness is not dependent upon any circumstance. It is the core longing of my soul. It is me, my true nature. I love loving. Giving thanks illuminates the beauty in everything (especially in myself). Just as sunlight is essential for the color inherent in a flower to manifest, so the beauty, goodness, and intelligence inherent in everything requires the light of thankfulness for me to see it.
Previously I unconsciously restricted my expression of authentic appreciation to conform with my unconscious programming which reads: “These are the conditions under which you are allowed to feel deep thankfulness: Winning the lottery, sex with a movie star, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.” Appreciation was scarce. Now my heart is growing richer with appreciation precisely because I want it to, not because some outer influence told me to!
As I grow more skillful at appreciation I find myself sometimes actually relishing challenges. My greatest happiness occurs in those precious times when I cannot find any obvious external reason to justify being thankful; such as in the face of loss, trauma, insult, or especially my own selfishness, laziness, cowardice, and stupidity. Many times the best I can muster is the feeblest prayer for thankfulness. The prayer for thankfulness is actually the first movement of thankfulness into my consciousness.
Abe Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Likewise, I find the foundation of my gratitude (happiness) is my determination to be so. I am grateful because I have the freedom to be so and because I love it. Without this essential freedom, I would be a slave of Life’s ever changing circumstances. My happiness would be entirely in the ever changing hands of fortune. But God designed me such that the one thing that I love and need above all else, thankfulness, is fully under my own control.
My body, possessions, reputation are all subject to circumstances. My spirit is not. Being thankful is the definitive proof that I am free; evidence of my immortality. I am thankful precisely and solely because I choose to be so. Joy does not get any more real. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Dr. Charley Cropley has been a practicing Naturopathic Doctor, teacher, and author in the Boulder/Denver since 1979. He has trained hundreds of doctors in his methods of nutrition and Self-Healing. He teaches a variety of courses and retreats. He is author of numerous articles, several books, a blog and an array of audio and videos. He is a frequent lecturer at the colleges of Naturopathic Medicine, and is regarded by his peers as one of today’s leading thinkers and teachers in the philosophy and practice of Naturopathic Medicine.
Charley works with all types of Health problems using no medicines or supplements. He teaches his patients to Heal themselves through wholesome nutrition, strengthening exercise, positive thinking and honest, caring relationships. He lives what he teaches.